As the father of a 4-year-old girl, resident Jeff Bolam doesn't appreciate the seemingly inattentive drivers who use his street as a cut-through.
"It's (parallel to and) one street off Oak Park Avenue," Bolam said of 68th Court. "It's not necessarily that people are driving that fast, it's that they are unaware. There are five intersections on my street that have no stop signs."
Bolam said he would most like to see a stop sign at 176th Street and 68th Court—a four-way intersection with no signage that's near where his little girl and other neighborhood kids often play. Signs are also not in place along 68th at 175th Street, 175th Place, 176th Place and 177th Street, which are all three-way, T intersections.
Bolam has reached out to local public works and police departments, he said, but hasn’t gotten very far.
Village Trustee Brian Maher, who's also the chairman of the board's Public Safety Committee, said Thursday that Bolam can submit a formal request to the village regarding the issue. But there are a series of steps that must be followed if it is to be granted.
"It's not unusual for us to get calls like this," he said. "Most people tend to think, 'I look out, I see kids out here, we need a stop sign and I don't understand why if I ask for one, I just can’t get it.' But it's somewhat of a science in terms of traffic control."
When the village gets a request for a traffic control device, a study is conducted through the police department. Officers follow a state-designated manual—it takes into account daily travelers, speed, length of the roadway and many other factors—to decide whether a sign is warranted. They then make a recommendation to the village board based on their findings.
"There are situations where even if it doesn't qualify, we may put one up due to extenuating circumstances," Maher said, referencing a stop sign that's been placed in the vicinity of 167th Street and 84th Avenue even though the report said it didn't need one. The board put the sign there anyway because of a greater possibility of pedestrians from a nearby park, Maher said.
"We have to be careful with that because one of the things that we're told is if you put stop signs up when they're really not warranted, they tend to get ignored and create an even more dangerous situation," he said. "In those cases, as a pedestrian or motorist, you now don't know what expect."
If the board votes to add a sign to an intersection, the job then falls on the shoulders of the village's public works department.
"We don't just place stop signs wherever people think they need to be," Public Works Director Dale Schepers said. "Only by ordinance can any traffic control sign be erected. We have to wait for the final word."
Maher said he's not certain whether any of Bolam's intersections would qualify for a stop sign. His initial hunch told him "no," but he said he'd be more than happy to have a study done.
The process often isn't a speedy one, as studies are done on a first-come, first-served basis. Last Maher heard from police, there were between 15 and 20 requests waiting in line, he said. The calls are not uncommon.
"Every mom with small kids thinks she needs a stop sign in front of her house," Maher said. "And I'm not trying to be harsh by saying that. Trust me, I'm a parent too and I understand why people ask for them. There's just a process we have to follow to make sure we're handling these requests the right way."
Bolam is considering filing a formal request, he said, adding that he has almost been hit while leaving for work at 6 a.m.
"Now that there are leaves on trees and bushes blocking drivers from seeing, it's even harder to anticipate what people are going to do," he said. "I'd just like to see some order, that's all."